Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012:
December 5, 1986
Crash.net IndyCar Driver of 2011 position:
There was a lot of pressure riding on James Hinchcliffe's shoulders as he started the 2012 season, not least because he was visibly stepping into Danica Patrick's vacated lime green GoDaddy.com shoes. He also needed to ensure that the momentum of being the 2011 rookie of the year wasn't lost as so often happens to second-year drivers in motorsport.
By and large, he's been successful. While there's not been any dramatic victories for the Canadian, he kept his race performances ticking over nicely with seven top six finishes in the first eight races including podiums at Long Beach and Milwaukee. Unfortunately the latter half of the season trailed off somewhat as the focus within the team moved to supporting Ryan Hunter-Reay's championship bid, and Hinch had to settle for eighth place in the final points standings.
But the fact that Hunter-Reay went on to clinch the championship may be the most important aspect of Hinchcliffe's season. Andretti Autosport had a dismal 2011 but seemed rejuvenated in 2012; and one of the reasons team insiders gave for the sudden uptick in performance was Hinch's own personality which made the team garage once again a fun and peasant place to be around. Hunter-Reay may owe the GoDaddy.com Guy a rather bigger share of his title success than we realised.
Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012 results so far:
5. James Hinchcliffe
6. Helio Castroneves
7. Sebastien Bourdais
8. Takuma Sato
9. Justin Wilson
10. Dario Franchitti